Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 20, 2004
Filed under , , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 Mar 2004

ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.  Saturday — first weekend crew rest day.

Update on Elektron: At this time (4:00pm EST), the O2 generator is up and running satisfactorily.  No SFOG (TGK) candles were needed today.   [Smooth operation was established this morning at 6:34am EST, after several start-up attempts.  The Elektron main program was activated via S-band at 2:30am, and the program executed the actual start of the electrolysis machine at 4:26am, followed by activation of its telemetry program at 4:36am.  Two hours later, the machine had settled down to smooth operation.]

As usually on Saturdays, the crew performed the weekly 3-hr. station cleaning.  [This includes removal of food waste products, cleaning of compartments with vacuum cleaner, wet cleaning of the Service Module (SM) dining table and other surfaces with “Fungistat” disinfectant and cleaning fan screens to avoid temperature rises.]

CDR/SO Michael Foale completed periodic preventive maintenance on one of the video tape recorders in the Lab, cleaning the heads of VTR2.

FE Alexander Kaleri performed the daily routine environmental control & life support systems (SOZh) maintenance in the Service Module (SM).

Mike and Sasha conducted their regular daily physical exercise program of 2.5 hrs on TVIS treadmill, CEVIS bike, RED exerciser and VELO cycle with load trainer.

At 8:30am EST, the crew held their monthly teleconference with ISS Program Management via S-band/audio.

The crew also conducted the weekly planning conference with the ground, discussing next week’s “Look-Ahead Plan” (regularly prepared jointly by MCC-H and MCC-M planners), via S-band/audio.

Both crewmembers had their weekly PFCs (private family conference), Sasha via VHF/home phone, Mike on Ku- and S-band.

The CDR was thanked for his work with the Lab window leak check yesterday.  The pressure in the inter-pane “Volume D”, vented to 2.1 mmHg (Torr) on 3/5, was measured at 359 mmHg, instead of the expected ~50 mmHg (based on the max design rateof 3.28 mmHg/day).  More work is required — the steps to be taken are to be decided on 3/22 (Monday).   [For thermal management of the window (to prevent condensation), the window shutter may only be opened for a cumulative period no longer than one hour in a 24 hour period while in XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane), and only remain open for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time.  The shutter then must be closed the amount of time it was open plus 5 min. prior to re-opening.  While in nominal LVLH XVV or YVV attitudes the window shutter may be open for a cumulative periodno longer than 1.5 hrs in a 24-hr period.]

Training material was uplinked to the crew for the upcoming BCAT3 experiment (Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-3).   [BCAT-3 is a Small Payload for ISS using the on-board digital camera and the MWA (Maintenance Work Area).  Forerunners were the glovebox investigations BCAT & BCAT-2 launched on STS-79 & STS-86 to the Russian space station Mir during the fall of ‘96 and ’97.  BCAT-3 is a precursor for the LMM (Light Microscopy Module) scheduled to fly in 2006.  BCAT-3 is also a follow-on experiment to CGEL (Colloidal Gelation) operated by Mike Foale on Mir/Increment 5.  Possible future applications of the colloidal alloy experiments are photonic crystals for telecommunications and computer applications (e.g., optical switches and waveguides, “computing with light”), extremely low threshold lasers, and improved use of supercritical fluids (e.g. CO2 for food extractions, pharmaceuticals, dry cleaning, etc.).

The crew was thanked for yesterday’s ADUM (Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity) ops, which went “very well”, to the satisfaction of the Principal Investigator (PI).

Current SSC (Station Support Computer) Laptop Status:

6 SSC ThinkPad A31p laptops in use

1 ThinkPad A31p stowed

7 SSC ThinkPad 760XD laptops in use

1 ThinkPad 760XD stowed (former SSC2, reboot error)

1 ThinkPad760XD failed (former OCA Router)

Current Propellant Reserves (as of 3/18):
Total propellant load available: 3926 kg  [SM(755) + FGB(2512) + Progress M-1(659)].  (Capability: SM — 860 kg; FGB — 6120 kg).

Weekly Science Update (Expedition Eight — 18th):

GASMAP:   Next GASMAP 30 Day Health Check activity is scheduled for 3/26.

Human Research Facility/Workstation (HRF WS):   Continuing.

Advanced Ultrasound (ADUM):   The crew was commended for an excellent job with the scanning yesterday.  The images received on the ground real-time were “professional quality”.  The team looks forward to the crew’s feedback on 3/22 (Monday).

Hand Posture Analyzer (HPA:  Looking forward to future operations.

In-Space Soldering Investigation (ISSE):   Nothing new.

Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI):   PFMI reprocessing of sample run 02A proceeded along the nominal timeline. The sample was pure Succinonitrile filled under a nitrogen atmosphere.  A low growth rate (1 micron/sec) in conjunction with a low temperature gradient (about 10K/cm) was used to first record the time/distance for gas rod nucleation at the interface.  The growth rate was then serially increased to ascertain rod-spacing transitions.  During the initial part of the run, the PFMI team noted that the Booster Heater was not heating up.  A series of commands were sent to try to resolve this issue, with no effect. So, the PI adjusted the run to a low-gradient one in order to proceed and still gain science value.  The possible causes for this nomaly were: (1) loose connection between cables, or (2) thermal switch failure, or (3) solid state relay failure, or (4) Booster Heater failure.  It is hoped that this anomaly can be resolved prior to the two PFMI experiments currently planned for next week.
Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS):   SAMS ops are nominal (more PFMI support next week).
Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS):   MAMS operations are nominal.

Protein Crystal Growth-Single Locker Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES):  Behaving nominally.

Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic Microscope (PromISS):   Experiment has ended.  The crew was thanked for all of their hard work and support with PromISS stowage activities.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions (InSPACE):    Planned.

Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-3 (BCAT-3):   Crew conference and operations starting up next week.

Renal Stone (RS):   The crew’s last in-flight data collection session will occur in April.  Thanks to the crew for their continued support with taking their daily pills at dinner time.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SHERES):   Pre-Increment requirements have been completed.  A second BBT (Beacon & Beacon Tester) session will be scheduled in US Lab.

Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight (FOOT):   The data from Mike’s third session was successfully received on the ground.  The PI will get back with him on the results as soon as he has analyzed the data.

Materials ISS Experiment (MISSE):  In progress. Deployed outside. Nominal and collecting data.

Cellular Biotechnology Support Systems-Fluid Dynamics Investigation (CBOSS-FDI):   The ground received Mike’s video on FDI Tissue Culture runs, and the PI is looking at it.  Mike’s methods were called “great”.

Yeast Group Activation Packs (Yeast GAP):   Nothing new.

Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM):  Nothing new. 

Earth Science Toward Exploration Research (ESTER):  Looking forward to the upcoming sessions.

Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2):  Planned.

Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA):   CGBA continues to run nominally at 20C.

Miscible Fluids in Microgravity (MFMG):    Crew conference on 3/22 (Monday) will kick off the MFMG Isothermal Operations. OBT (on-board training) is on board if Mike wants to refresh.

Educational Payload Operations (EPO):  The video from the Flight in Zero-G demos is a valuable educational resource.  It will be distributed to five science centers around the country for use in programs for students and educators.  The crew was thanked for providing a “terrific explanation” of how airplanes and helicopters fly.  Their enthusiastic support of on-orbit education activities is appreciated..

Crew Earth Observations (CEO):  Thanks to the crew for their continued hard work.  The ground has just received their latest downlink of images and will be reviewing them.

Today’s CEO (Crew Earth Observations) targets, limited in XPOP attitude by flight rule constraints on the use of the science window, which is available for only ~1/4 of each orbit when not facing forward (in “ram”), were Internal waves, Vietnam (looking left near the coastline as internal waves start up again with the new lunar phase), Air pollution, Bombay (NASA experiments have discovered that aerosols blowing off India [a combination of smoke, dust and industrial air pollution] are orders of magnitude larger than originally thought.  Looking right towards the coast where Bombay is reported under smoke.  Conditions are ideal for imaging these aerosols [lower sun angles, with the sea surface as background] in oblique views), Sobat Fans, SW Sudan (SW Sudan is one of the most remote parts of the world.  Surface maps are poor.  The region at the foot of the Ethiopian plateau is dominated unexpectedly by a series of large inland deltas whose outlines are barely determined.  Looking left for a mapping swath of oblique views [easily rectified to maps for further analysis]), Logone inland deltas, Chad (looking right for a mapping swath of landscapes around the south side of the Chad basin where vast amounts of river sediment have been laid down far from the low point in the basin [Lake Chad]), Blowing dust, Cent. Chad (Dynamic event.  A new dust event is visible in the depression between Lake Chad and the Tibesti mountains.  Looking left for the plumes.  Dust from this depression can reach the Americas), Internal waves, Patagonia (looking left towards the Argentine coastline), and Saharan dust, Cape Verde Is. (Dynamic event.  Dust haze is reported moving out to sea off Senegal.  Shooting obliquely right, with the Cape Verde Islands in the foreground).
CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 7:45am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 367.4 km
  • Apogee — 374.5km
  • Perigee — 360.3 km
  • Period — 91.89 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.6288 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0010583
  • Solar Beta Angle — ~43 deg (magnitude decreasing)
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.67
  • Mean altitude loss last 24 hours — 135 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 30440

For more on ISS orbit and worldwide ISS naked-eye visibility dates/times, see

SpaceRef staff editor.